How they do it– ‘Purim Is No Laughing Matter In The Post-Truth Era’
ed note–Purim–just like it’s near-twin, Passover–is a celebration of Judaic revenge against Gentiles. It’s primary purpose and the reason for its creation by the Rabbis was/is to create in the mind of the Judaic collective the notion that the god of the Jews–Yahweh–looks favorably upon Jews engaging in their ‘eye for an eye’ mentality against those who get sideways with them in whatever fashion. If Christians, Muslims, or anyone else had as part of their yearly religious calendar various ‘feasts’ where they engaged in similar business against Jews who had somehow done them wrong at sometime in the past, it would be used as prime efface evidence that said religion was an ideology of hate that was in need of a complete spiritual blood transfusion.
Having said this, observe the manner by which our esteemed Rebbe plays fast and fancy with the facts. In the first case, he notes that in the story of Esther, which functions as the platform for the entire Purim paradigm, that–once again, surprise, surprise–the Jews are accused by the authorities of being a ‘separate people’–in other words, ghettoized outlaws who refuse to live according to the laws and customs of the host nation.
Now, where, oh where, have we heard that before?
If indeed there is any historical basis for the Purim story, all can just imagine just what the Jews were doing as a group at that time that raised the suspicions of the authorities and just what kind of ‘practices’ they were ‘practicing’ that ran contrary to the laws of Persia. All one need do is read the NY Daily News on a regular basis for a good representation NOW of what they were doing THEN.
Next, please note the following from our esteemed Rebbe–
‘In Judaism, truth is a central moral value through which we cultivate and evaluate both personal integrity and the integrity of our shared society. Our tradition has multiple names by which the One God may be called, and one of those names is “Truth.” If our historical legacy as Jews cautions us not to malign and oppress the stranger, our spiritual legacy of Judaism reminds us that the truth matters.’
666% lies, every bit of it. Judaism and the ‘Jewish tradition’ is one long indictment list of liars, the lies they told and the rewards they got for doing so. As we read in Genesis, Abraham lied to Pharaoh that Sarah was his ‘sister,’ and after she was taken as a concubine into Pharaoh’s household and everyone came down with some strange sickness that is never adequately described in the Bible, Pharaoh realizes that ol’ Abe pulled a fast one on him and kicks him out of Egypt, the first ‘expulsion’ and the first documented case of ‘anti-Shemitism’ in human history. Abraham then tries a repeat performance when he and his ‘sister’ Sarah are entering the kingdom of Gerar and he tries selling her to Abimelech, the king of that country, who also finds out in short time that Sarah is indeed not Abraham’s ‘sister’ at all. Abraham’s son, Isaac, does the same thing with his wife Rebeccah. Jacob–known in biblical lore as ‘the liar’–Isaac’s son, conspires with his mother to defraud his older brother Esau out of his birthright by–drum role please–lying to his father.
And it just goes, on , and on, and on, right up until the 21st century and the creation of the Jewish state and along with it, it’s assassination, propaganda (lying) arm known as Mossad, whose motto just happens to be–surprise, surprise– ‘By way of deception (lying and untruth) we make war’.
Rabbi Richard Hirsh, The Forward
For centuries Purim, which celebrates the narrow escape of the Jews of ancient Persia from an edict of extermination, has been played as comedy and carnival in which a serious story of near-genocide is deflated through costume and parody. But this year, Purim does not seem quite so humorous. There is too much at stake. We again have ample reason to fear that the words of Haman, the main foe of the Persian Jews, have gained currency. “There is a certain people… and their laws are different from every other people, nor do they keep the king’s law; it is not in the king’s interest to tolerate them” (Esther 3:8), Haman charged. Without asking for proof or evidence, the Persian king Ahasuerus accepts the authenticity of the accusation and signs the edict “… let it be written that they may be destroyed.” (3:9)
Among the most disturbing aspects of this disturbing year was the arrival of what has now been dubbed the “post-truth era.”
“Post-truth,” the Oxford English Dictionary’s 2016 word of the year, is defined there as “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” The former senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan once said, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.” In a “post-truth era,” however, the underlying assumption that there are such things as “facts” is itself challenged.
The right now deems fact-checking of even the most implausible assertions as biased and a fabrication. Social media has given us the distorting phenomenon of fake news, which thrives in the swamps of a post-truth era. The spirit of Haman – of unwarranted and untrue attacks, threats and accusations – now regrettably thrives in the contemporary political arena. And just as in the Book of Esther a lie was spread “to every people according to their language” (3:12), we now have social media that can instantly spread false allegations.
All this should be of concern to Jews. We know what it means to be on the receiving end of rumor, innuendo, accusation and distortions of fact. We know what follows when provocative pugnacity is wed to political power.
In addition to our concern for the harm fact-distortion can do to marginalized communities, we should be equally alert to the corrosive effect on our social fabric when truth itself is displaced by a culture of lies asserted with audacity.
In Judaism, truth is a central moral value through which we cultivate and evaluate both personal integrity and the integrity of our shared society. Our tradition has multiple names by which the One God may be called, and one of those names is “Truth.” If our historical legacy as Jews cautions us not to malign and oppress the stranger, our spiritual legacy of Judaism reminds us that the truth matters.
If people choose to say or do hurtful and damaging things, then in truth they ought to be held accountable. If people refuse to recognize facts and evidence, then in truth they ought to be held responsible. If people dismiss the arguments of those with whom they disagree by accusing and attacking rather than by engaging, then in truth they ought to be held culpable for the tragic consequences for civic and civil conversation. If “truth” is one of the names of God, then we have an obligation to ensure we honor that name.
Richard Hirsh is assistant rabbi at Congregation M’kor Shalom in Cherry Hill, N.J. and Main Line Reform Temple in Wynnewood, PA.
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